The 'New' New Year

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Image from weheartit
I was browsing through my bloglovin feed, and read this post by Tabitha, on her blog, Scared Toast. It got me thinking about how September almost marks the start of a 'second' New Year. I don't mean with all the big party and fireworks, but just that it seems a time where we can take stock, and almost start again.
When I was still at school September marked the start of the new school year, and was in some respects, more important than the new year in January. It was a time for new uniforms, new school shoes, a new bag, and my most favourite thing in the world, new stationary! There was nothing I liked more than buying 20 thousand different coloured gel pens; ones that smell when you write with them; glittery ones; marble effect ones; new notepads, new pens, pencils, everything! I loved getting my new school planner and vowing to keep it pristine until the end of the year. Every new school book or folder was started in my best handwriting, with the date and title underlined (in a different colour - I needed those gel pens for a reason) and it was almost as though the previous year hadn't happened and you could metaphorically wipe the slate clean. My school was quite laid back in terms of uniform, so every year would mark a change in my interpretation of the uniform, as I became, older, more confident, and braver!
For those of you still at school or going to university, these thrills are still there. Going to university for the first time, for me, had the double edge thrill of moving away from home, and everything you were, and that you could become a completely different person if you wanted to be, reflecting your personality through your d├ęcor choices for your new student des-res.
Now I'm older and work full time, there isn't that same sense of break. But then again, I think there is. Even if you don't have children, or work in a school, September seems to mark a change in the year for us all. During the summer months everyone is off on their holidays, but by September, everyone is back and not considering taking leave for a least a few more weeks. Christmas starts to be on people's minds as the next countrywide bank holiday, and as the leaves start to turn and  the seasons change, so does the fashions and the food we eat, as we begin to think about settling in for the long cold winter.
Even if you don't go to school anymore, you can still recreate that sense of new beginnings again. See returning from your holiday as a fresh start. You could vow to keep up that holiday diet, try cooking some of the new foods you've tried, and vow to make time for your family in the way that you do only when on holiday. View your return to work, not with impending doom, but with a feeling of invigoration, and determination, that now is the time. You are refreshed and focused, and you  are going to tackle work just like the new school pupil starting secondary school for the first time And hey, if you want to do it with a brand new bag, full of new stationary, well go at it! Who says you have to stick to the boring office supplied stationary? Adorn and customise your desk with the prettiest pads and pens you can find.
Like in Tabitha's post, take some time to reflect on the success of your new year's resolutions so far. So often we don't reflect until we are about to make the following New Year's resolutions, so use the time to take stock. It may not be exactly half way through, but I think September, marks the start of the new new year!

Do you take time to reflect at different times in the year?


Thursday, 29 August 2013

Image from weheartit
Every time I come to write my monthly Mostly.... post, I always think "well I haven't done much this month!" As soon as I start writing I realise actually there's lots of things I've been doing, eating reading, watching etc and the post just flows. But this month I've really struggled to get to grips with what my month has mostly consisted of, aside from work!
So in a change from the usually format, I decided, rather than not do this post, that I would re-cap what I've mostly been up to, via some of this month's posts. So if you've missed anything during August, here's your chance to check out my favourite posts, from the last 30 days.
In my post about when 'Scott goes out' I shared with you one of my new favourite comfort recipes, that I like to enjoy with a glass of wine, and a good TV programme!
Wedding Planning.......
As with any month in the BBB household, there is some level of wedding planning going on. This month, I've made my own wedding planner/binder/organiser, as well as thought about my wedding shoes to wear on the big day.
Back copies of Pretty Nostalgic magazine, and Cecelia Ahern's Book of Tomorrow.
Taking some time to think about the Simple Pleasure's in life, really made me feel appreciate of the things in life that we so often forget about. This was on of my favourite posts to write over the last few months, in fact, and I'd love to her some more of yours.
What have you been Mostly...... this month?

BBB Book Review - The Book of Tomorrow

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

I'll be honest, I've generally avoided books by Cecelia Ahern. I think it comes from my fear of the book, PS I Love You. Books are a form of escapism, and generally I don't like reading something that I know will have me blubbing over the pages. Don't get me wrong, I have read sad stories, but as I know that PS I Love You is going to be sad, at some point within the book, I've avoided it like the plague.
During a thrifting session I picked up The Book of Tomorrow. I was initally attracted to the cover, but almost went to put it back when I noted the author, as I convinced myself Cecelia Ahern only wrote sad books. It was only because my friend stopped me, advising me it really was a good book and that I would enjoy it, that I decided to give it a chance.
The Book of Tomorrow focuses on 17 year old Tamara Goodwin, who is generally a bit of a spoiled brat and believes the world owes her a living. Tamara's descriptions of her life, prior to finding her father dead in his study, after he commits suicide, do not endear you to her character. Her struggles with the loss of her luxurious lifestyle, and living in the grounds of  ruined castle, do nothing to help this impression of Tamara. I would much prefer the castle setting, than the super duper modern house she describes!
In lieu of anything else to do, (and in pursuit of a boy) Tamara boards the mobile library and discovers a locked diary. Just like the way I was drawn to the cover of this book, Tamara is drawn to the locked book with it's big gold clasp. Tamara soon discovers the diary writes her an entry every day, as though she had written it herself, however, it shows her entry for the following day. Tamara then has to choose whether to live by the diary or against it.
There is something magical about this book, and the way Cecelia Ahern write, makes the whole thing very believable. It starts off reasonably slow, but upon discovering the diary, moves quickly towards its conclusion. I won't give too much away about the ending, but needless to say, Tamara becomes a whole lot more likeable as the story goes on, and the ending is not the direction I anticipated the book going towards.
This has definitely made me consider reading more books by Cecelia Ahern in the future.
Have you read this book? Are you a fan of Cecelia Ahern?

Simple Pleasures

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Image from weheartit
You may remember from my June Mostly.... post that my taste in magazine reading material has changed somewhat, and one of my new reads has been The Simple Things. One of the lovely parts of the magazine is that all the contributors describe what their 'Simple Thing' is, which got me thinking about mine.
Unable to think of one I came up with a whole list! I thought it would be nice to share with you what my 'Simple Things' are, to help remind us all that, the best in things in life really are free! (or almost!)
  • A freshly made bed, with that fresh laundry smell.
  • Burying your bare feet into a thick cosy rug.
  • A long bath followed by new pyjamas and slippers to lounge in.
  • New products - I always try to keep any new products in their packaging as long as I can, as I'm just a sucker for pretty packaging. I love trying out products I've never tried before too.
  • A warm hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows.
  • Curling up with the cat for cuddles
  • Cleaning - I genuinely enjoy having a nice clean, fresh smelling home, and I find it much easier to relax when I can look around and feel it's a job well done.
  • Cooking - I enjoy cooking when I've got lots of time, with a glass of wine and the radio playing in the background. My kitchen is one of my favourite places in my home.
  • Nice food - any simple pleasure in life, for me, usually involves eating. I love 'sociable' food, where everything is out in bowls so everyone gathers round and digs in together.
  • Taking off my make up - I love that feeling of my skin being fresh and clean and free from the clogginess of make up. I always enjoy carrying out my skincare routine.
  • A fresh manicure or pedicure, even if I do it myself, I love having pretty nails.
  • Shopping - Every girl loves a shopping trip, but I especially love the thrill of a thrifty find, followed by tea and cake of course!
  • The wonder of conversation - it always amazes me the variety of discussion that can be had over tea, coffee or a glass of wine. A conversation that makes you discover and find out new things is always fascinating. One of my recent discussion of this type was talking about the origins and differences in sayings, from different local areas, that my friends come from.
  • Walks, muddy paws, cold red faces and coming home to a warm bowl of soup and crusty bread.
  • Toby's doggy smell, and wet Labrador kisses.
  • Being the first one up - I love the sense of peace and tranquillity in the house when Toby and Scott stay in bed, and I have a quiet potter to myself.
  • Discovering new blogs - I enjoy going through my favourite bloggers ad to find new ones.
  • On a similar note, go through you're favourite 'successful' bloggers archives, it's always fascinating to see a bloggers origins, and reminds you how far they have come.
  • Listening to the birds on a warm hot summers day.
  • Wikipedia - this is probably more of my guilty pleasure. I wiki everything; film plots, celebrities, history, a word I've found, anything and everything.
  • Books - everything about books is a pleasure to me. Old or new. The excitement of reading all the blurbs whilst choosing a new one; the smell of the ink of the pages, and the crinkle of the pages as they turn. There is quite frankly, no finer pleasure than a book!
What are your simple pleasures in life? Are any of these on your list?

Skincare Update - Lush Skincare

Saturday, 17 August 2013

It's been a while since I have a) done a beauty post and b) done a post about my skincare routine.
If you have followed my blog for anything longer than a week, you will probably by now know that I am a loyal clarins skincare addict. Now I'm not suddenly going to admit to having gone to skincare rehab, however my clarins addicition is not entirely good for my purse so I've been trying to find a cheaper alternative.
You may know from my post last year, that finding a skincare routine was not the easiest thing in the world for me to find, so even considering deviating from it was never going to be easy. During one of my trips to Lush (I go very rarely but buy a lot when I do) I talked to the girl about my current skincare routine, and why I was looking for something else. This was prompted by her taking off some of the emotional brilliance products she had tried on me with Ultrabland, and me commenting on how nice it felt.
I decided to give the Ultrabland Cleanser, and Celestial Moisturiser a go. The girl asked me about a toner, and when I said I was allergic, I got the usual spiel of how their products are really sensitive etc etc. I just want to take this opportunity to give complete kudos to Lush's customer service. The girl explained that their Eau Roma Water was basically water and essential essences - no nasties in here whatsoever. She tried a bit on my neck and waited, and when it didn't go red (and I was still not quite convinced) she demonstrated her complete faith in the product by giving my a full sized free bottle of toner!
I've tried all three together as a skincare routine at home. Ultrabland has a very strange texture as its quite oily and greasy with a bit of fine texture to it. I'm not sure how good this would be on oily skin, but on my dehydrated skin its felt really nice. As I said the texture is a bit odd, and it's not the prettiest of smells, but it cleans and takes up every trace of make up, even waterproof, without breaking into a sweat. Its gentle on the eyes and I had no problem using it to take off waterproof mascara. You do have to take the excess off with a warm flannel, and this is when you really do need your toner to get rid of that last little bit.
The Eau Roma Water has been brilliant! I've even used it in the middle of my Clarin's routine and its still worked well. Its nice to get that really clean refreshed feeling after using cleanser before adding moisturiser.
The Celestial moisturisers I quite strange as I've been used to a heavy cream, whereas this is a really light fluffy whipped cream. Its worked well over the summer months, but I'm no confident on its ability to stand up to the harsh winter weather, and I'm certain I  will need to go back to my Clarins cream, and serum by then.
Overall I think the Lush skincare routine has worked quite well, and I think if you've got normal to dry skin it will be perfect. A friend of mine did comment my skin was looking a little drier than usual, so it's not a complete replacement for Clarins for me, but in times of financial distress, its certainly kept me ticking over.
Have you tried any of these Lush products? Have you compared them to more expensive brands?

DIY Wedding Organiser

Thursday, 15 August 2013

My Kit

More kit - details below

Finished binder


Custom tabs and pocket

Custom tabs

Essential calender

Essentials - pen; post its; vouchers; business cards

Polypockets keep everything safe.

So even though I said I was not going to turn this into a wedding blog, here is yet another wedding post I wanted to share with you.
I've became increasingly frustrated at the lack of pretty, budget friendly Wedding organisers out there. The majority were over £20 and included a lot of information I didn't require in my own binder. I decided instead to make my own.

My Kit:-
  • Lever Arch Folder
  • 10 tab divider
  • Scrapbooking paper
  • Polypockets
  • Printable Wedding Organiser/Planner (the one I sued can be found here)
  • A5 press stud folder
  • Printable Calendar (found here)
  • Various embellishments
  • Crafting materials (eg pens, papers, craft knife, glue)
I bought one of these recycled lever arch folders from The Range, and used a combination of scrapbook paper, lace, buttons, twine and luggage tags to make it look pretty - I wanted this to be something I wanted to look at time and time again, and hopefully keep, once the planning is all over, as a record of our special day.
There is certainly a lack of pretty tabbed dividers out there (stationary companies please take note.) As a bit of a stationary junkie, I was really disappointed with what was on offer, both in the shops and online. I used pretty scrap booking papers to make my own dividers. I glued the first tab that will be seen upon opening to the back of the paper to make it strong. Rather than wasting my pretty (and expensive paper) on all the other tabs that would be hidden by the pages inside, I drew around each individual tab, and just stuck the paper to the tab only, and not the whole divider. I was able to do this from the leftover from the first divider. I then used a sharpie pen to write what would go behind each tab - this is personal preference really - you can see some of mine in the pictures above.
I then added the pages of my free printable wedding planner behind each appropriate tab. I didn't keep all of them, as some of the were not relevant (eg gift list) and I am using excel spread sheets to keep track of my guests and will print those out at a later stage. There are some really useful tips interspersed through the planner, and it gives you ideas of questions to ask when meeting with people.
Finally I added polypockets which I filled with various information on different services (eg photographers, DJ's, florists etc) as well as any confirmations and invoices. As things are booked and confirmed, I then discard all the additional services I'm no longer going to use. This keeps it organised and focused and free of clutter.
I added a printable calendar to the back to keep track of the important dates, as these were getting lost in my Filofax which I use for work. I also added the little A5 folder at the front and superglue it in. This is storage for post-its a pen and little business cards. I also added some note paper.
I love my wedding planner, and its unique and special to me. It has all my essential info in it, and already gives a hint to how a lot of the wedding is probably going to look.
Even if you're not getting married anytime soon, you could use some of these ideas to organise folders for yourself - maybe for a piece of uni work, or even as a blog planner folder.

Pretty Nostalgic Magazine

Monday, 12 August 2013

Before I started blogging I would regularly buy fashion magazines. I would bring them home, pour over them for hours minutes and they would very quickly be discarded, as there was often very little content to read, and by the time the next issue was out, the fashions were already dated. There was no reason to keep them as there was nothing I ever felt I would want to refer back to.

Since I discovered the world of blogging, it's certainly curbed my urge to buy fashion magazines, as I much prefer to turn to a blogger for street style, rather than high end un-wearable fashions. What blogging has made me focus on is the things I really love, and although I enjoy clothes, I also enjoy the much more simple things in life and being a bit of a home-bird.

Pretty Nostalgic magazine popped up on my twitter feed sometime ago. It appeals to my sense of being quintessentially British, by only focusing on British made products and designs, and my love of all things vintage. Pretty Nostalgic is an independent magazine that is published every other month, that "celebrates vintage, traditional and sustainable ways of living".

I have recently begun collecting all of the back issues, and Pretty Nostalgic is certainly one of those magazines you will want to keep. Its so pretty to look at and display, and there are articles in it that you will refer back to again and again and again. I think this is the only magazine that I was unable to finish before the bath went cold, as it's not filled with loads of adverts, but instead filled with lots of quality content, pictures, drawings, interviews and reviews. (It also smells quite nice too, if like me, you like that sort of thing!)

Pretty Nostalgic is available to buy online or in WHSmiths. You may think at £8 its slightly pricy, but as it only comes out every other month, I work out that's pretty much the same as the big (advert filled) glossies out there!

 Have you read Pretty Nostalgic?

Money Saving Tips

Saturday, 10 August 2013

As last month ended up being so cash-strapped, we've really got to tighten our belts this month, in order to get our household finances and wedding finances back on track.
I'd thought I'd share some of my money saving tips with you.
Spend Less.
This is a bit of a no brainer really, but I'm a complete spendthrift. I often justify going into charity shops for my spending on the basis that they are so cheap, but sometimes I can spend £20 on clothes that often, I don't really  need. Currently my charity shop spending habits are to be limited to wedding buys only (crockery, teap cups etc) and certainly no more clothes shopping! I'm trying to re-think my wardrobe more, repair some of the clothes that have got buttons missing, or rips in the seams, and re-fashion some of the others into something more workable.
Frugal Food
As a couple our biggest spend is often on food. We will do the usual "big shop" about once per week, but then in between we will find ourselves 'nipping' back for some bits and bobs. A pint of milk usually ends up costing us about £20, due to the other bits and pieces we add in, magazine here, takeaway ready meal there. Often it's me not always wanting to eat what's in the fridge or freezer, but we've decided it's time to go back to the old meal planner and online shop!
Sell Stuff
I am a complete hoarder. Well, I'm not, as I go through my belongings regularly and send clothes to the charity shops, but I very rarely sell them. The obvious choice for selling clothes is Ebay, but MusicMagpie have also starting allowing you to sell clothes via their site. My friend often uses MusicMagpie to sell DVDs and CDs, the kind of thing I tend to hang on to for some reason, but I'm definitely going to have a go through some of them now and consider whether I really need them all - particularly as most of them are stored on my laptop and Ipod too!
Have you ever seen those programmes with the crazy coupon people on? Well that will be me soon! Only kidding! But seriously, my Clubcard vouchers came through recently, and I always get extra coupons with them, and I realised I never ever use them! Yet they are all for money off things I buy on a regular basis! I've also got over £30 in vouchers I haven't spent, so we are going to save those for when we are super struggling food wise, or if we decide we want a nice treat, rather than using our cash. I'm also going to check online to see if there are any more I haven't used.
So that's a start towards (hopefully) the pounds starting to pile up! What are your quick and easy money saving/gaining tips?

*This is a sponsored post

Wedding Shoes

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Untitled #7
The search for my elusive wedding shoes is proving to be a bit of a nightmare right now! I keep thinking the wedding is still so far away, but as my style of dress is likely to be so crucial to the theme of the day, I need to start thinking about my attire now.
I thought shoes were an add-on to 'The Dress' so to speak, but the shoes, I'm told, are just as important, as they will affect the length of the dress, and possibly even the style. They need to compliment one another.
I've been in love with the Diane Hassal Pearl Drift shoes, almost since I first started looking, but sadly at almost £200, I fear they are slightly out of my price range. As beautiful as they are, they certainly won't be worn again.
I've been toying with the idea of some vintage style art-deco shoes. My theme isn't really 1920s but it is slight vintage, so I'm not sure if they will work or not. Again these are rather out of my price range, but I'm trying to convince the future husband that I'm sure I'll wear them again!
Coming back down to earth (and more importantly, back down to budget!) I've also considered maybe a statement colour pair of shoes. My main colour theme is navy blue, and I love the idea of some photos of my bright blue shoes peeking out from under my dress.
These blue and lace shoes are actually on Etsy, and I've have considered whether I might be able to DIY some shoes like this myself. These navy blue rosette shoe clips, are also on Etsy, and could be added to any budget pair of shoes, like these lacy ones from New Look (I didn't know New Look did bridal shoes either!), keeping costs down, and making the shoes more wearable again in the future.
Do any of you have any tips for buying wedding shoes? Did you really wear them again or are they still in a box somewhere?


*This is a sponsored post

Sometimes Scott goes out......

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Creamy Prawn Linguine

When my other half goes out, I always use it as an opportunity for some real 'me time'. This usually involves food of some kind, namely food I know he doesn't like all that much.
On this particular occasion, I was struggling to think of anything to cook, so I had a quick scroll with my 'liked' blogloving posts and came across Rosie's Pea and Prawn Linguine. I'd saved this post a while ago, and it seemed the perfect accompaniment to a glass of white wine, and an old Foyle's War.
The final outcome was a combination of Rosie's recipe and this BBC one, with a few chopped chilli's added for extra spice. Some sun-blushed tomato and garlic bread on the side, and I had the makings of a meal, fit for any night in alone.
Needless to say, my eyes were bigger than my belly, and the leftover went in the fridge for me to have for lunch the following day. A few hours later, when my wonderful future husband returned home, I could hear various chomping at the side of me. I rolled over to find him having a midnight feast of my leftover prawns, pasta and garlic bread!
Scott - "Why don't you make this any other time?"
Me - "Because you don't normally like prawns!"
Scott - "I don't mind prawns, I'm just not a big fan, but this is alright."
So this is now firmly off my list of "When Scott Goes Out" recipes and is now in the "Everyday/Occasions" binder!

Last Days of Summer.........

Saturday, 3 August 2013


While most people are probably thinking that we've had our summer and that's the end of it now, I've been thinking about how I can eek out as much of summer as possible.


In our garden we have a summer house which is currently being used as a shed. Whilst the weather has been so warm, it's been too hot to even think about doing anything, but now the weather has changed a little, I'm thinking about sprucing up the summer house to have as a little late summer/early autumn retreat.


I've been obsessed with the idea of painting the summer house in one of the new Cuprinol pastel shades that have been in the shops recently. I think this Wild Thyme colour is perfect for the main outside, highlighted with the white or cream. I'd probably paint the inside white or cream as well, just to give it a bit of a freshen up - once I've dusted away all the various spiders webs of course!


While the weather is warm, I'll need somewhere to keep drinks cool. We are able to run electricity to the summer house, so this mini fridge, from John Lewis, is perfect for those extra beers when the sun is shining, and the BBQ is out!


Towards the end of the summer, the nights are often much cooler, so this chimenea, from the Range, and blanket (Dunelm) will be perfect for snuggling up in to keep warm, whilst finishing off the last of the beers! The blanket can also double as a picnic blanket, so it's dual purpose. I'm having dreams of me and Scott and the pup snuggling up to watch the sunset now!


Have you got any plans to try an make the most of what's left of the summer?

*This is a sponsored post.


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